April 22, 2007


Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks
Contemporary Fiction
Quit on 4/17/07
Rating: DNF
Chunkster Challenge (incomplete)

If the reader finds pleasure... let him continue; if not, let him throw the book away. The only criterion in the end is pleasure; all the other arguments are worthless.
~Claude Simon

It's been close to 10 years since I first heard about this book. Someone in my very first online book group raved about the novel, so of course I had to add it to my newly formed TBR list. Bookfool's Chunkster Challenge prompted me to finally give the book a read and I'm sorry to say that after 75 pages, I decided to call it quits. I wish I were still in touch with the woman who spoke so highly of Birdsong so I could ask her if it's one of those books that requires some determination and if it gets better further along. Since I'm not reading nearly as much as I was a few months ago, I decided not to continue wasting my time on a book that simply wasn't entertaining. While I don't plan to follow Simon's advice and throw this book away, I will add it to my BookMooch inventory, with hopes that someone may make a request for it.


  1. I continue to be envious of your ability to discard a book without kicking yourself. I'm halfway through about a bajillion books, Inheritance of Loss and Homeland (on p. 654!) which I'm not finishing any time soon. However, I am getting ready to post on The Secret of Lost Things by Sheridan Hay which I loved. Thanks for saving me from Birdson.

  2. Bellezza - I simply can't stand to waste time reading something I'm not enjoying. I didn't used to be this way. It was probably when I started acquiring more books than I can read in a given year. Life's too short!

    I've seen The Secret of Lost Things at work, but haven't gone any further than glancing at the cover. I'll give it a peek tomorrow. Thanks!

  3. I read Birdsong about seven years ago so I don't remember very much except that as it went on it became completely gripping and the emotional intensity was great. I think it was a bit slow to start, but it builds, and I was stunned by it and gave it straight to my husband to read after me.
    However, with so many books worth reading and waiting to be read, you're probably right to move on.

  4. Karen - Oh, dear. Now I'm tempted to dig it out of my discard bag and continue onward. There have been several great books that I've read in the past few years that have taken me well over 80+ pages to get interested in, so perhaps this is one to stick with a bit longer. Thanks for letting me know your thoughts on it.

  5. Hi, Les!

    There was a time I plodded on with a book even when I didn't like it, only because I couldn't bear to leave it halfway, but now I am in total agreement with the Claude Simon quote, the ultimate goal of a book is pleasure and if it's not acheiving its aim, it has to be abandoned.

    I see you're reading the new Khalid Hosseini book? Oooooooooh, what is it like I wonder? I can't wait to find out!!!

  6. Lotus - I am loving this new book by Hosseini!! I'm very lucky to be able to borrow my sister-in-law's ARC before she's even had a chance to read it (she's saving it for a trip next month). At this point, I'd venture to say I like it better than The Kite Runner, but we'll see. I'm only about 175 pages in, so far. Definitely one of the better books I've read so far this year.

  7. I don't blame you for giving up. I used to never abandon anything deliberately, but I've been cultivating my ability to simply let go and abandon a book that isn't grabbing me, especially in the last two years. The fatter ones are the easiest to let go, I've found. I have to admit that I'm intrigued by Karen's comment!

  8. Nancy - I'm intrigued by her comment, too. I know what you mean about ditching those Chunksters more readily though. I never used to give up on books. But that was before book groups and TBR lists. A dozen years ago, I had no idea I'd have so many options!

  9. I didn't finish one of my Chunkster Challenges and did throw it away. I have never done that before. I even read 250 pages trying to give it a fair shot. I was glad to read your review and know that I wouldn't be adding this to my list until I read Karen's comments. Rats.

  10. Anonymous7:36 PM

    Hmmm ... I bought this (albeit used) after reading some positive comments about in on a few blogs. I'll probably still give it a try someday, but it's definitely not high on my list.

  11. Framed - You threw a book away??? Gasp! Just kiddin' :) 250 pages is certainly a fair shot, but I know with some of those Chunksters, you need to read a bit more than usual just to get engrossed.

    I know. Karen's comments have aroused my curiosity and now I'm not sure if I'm ready to abandon the book after all.

    Lesley - Maybe I'll wait to hear what you have to say about the book. If you give it a thumbs up, I may just have to go back to it. At this point, however, it's in a stack for Bookmooch.

  12. Anonymous9:48 PM

    Les, the Claude Simon quote is absolutely perfect! Pleasure is my only motivation for reading...which could be why I'm not enjoying my book group so much!

    ~Janet in Fort Worth

  13. Janet - Oh, dear! I'm sorry you're not enjoying your book group. You know, I really have no interest in joining one anymore. I'd just as soon read what I want when I want and not have a group dictate what I "have" to read.


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